Category Archives: In the News

Google Wants Help Tagging Accessible Places

Via: Disability Scoop

By: Shaun Heasley
Google is looking to the public in an effort to make navigating the world easier for people with disabilities.

The search giant is asking users to add information about wheelchair accessibility to entries on Google Maps.

“Because anyone can identify and label wheelchair-friendly locations directly on the map, it’s easy to share this knowledge around the world. But not everyone knows this tool exists, so we want to do more,” wrote Sasha Blair-Goldensohn — a software engineer for Google Maps who uses a wheelchair — in a post this month about the new push. “We’re calling on Local Guides, a community of people who contribute their expertise about places on Google Maps, to add more wheelchair accessibility attributes to the map.”

Google Maps was updated last year to include details on wheelchair accessibility alongside basics like hours, addresses and telephone numbers of businesses and other locations. However, many entries still lack such information.

Google relies on users to submit details about accessibility and has created a one-page guide to help individuals assess locations they visit. To contribute information, users answer five simple questions in a process that Blair-Goldensohn said takes just seconds to complete.

A series of meetups for Local Guides this month in cities around the globe is designed to add accessibility details to a flurry of new Google Maps entries.

“And wheelchair users aren’t the only ones who will benefit,” Blair-Goldensohn noted. “You’ll also be making life easier for families with strollers, seniors with walkers or anyone making plans with a friend who has impaired mobility.”

Cerebral Palsy Blogger Nominated at Women of Influence Awards


By: Matthew Cattin

With an IV line sticking out of one arm, Grace Stratton used the other to type her first blog post from a hospital bed.

It was November 2015, and she was about to undergo her sixteenth surgery in as many years.

Now 17, the Warkworth resident’s writing has taken off, and has seen her nominated for the Young Leader category of this year’s Women of Influence Awards.

Born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, Grace noticed at a young age that she stood out.

“My entire life – because I’m disabled – everything I did, people paid more attention to it,” she said.

“Even just simple things like making my own cups of tea or being independent, people took more notice. As I got older and became an adult, I realize that gave me power.”

Grace used the power of her platform to her advantage, and took up blogging.

Utilising her website, Facebook page and Instagram, Grace produces regular content for her followers, and for herself.

“I haven’t just been hooked on it because I enjoy it – I’ve been hooked on it because of necessity as well. It’s something that I need to do for my own sanity,” she said.

“The real world is quite difficult for me to navigate around. I find it hard to get from place to place.

“There’s very little that I can do without difficulty, but the internet and computer is one thing that I am able to do without problems.”

Grace says she gets her mindset from her family, and finds inspiration in disability advocates Robbie Francis and Jess Quinn.

She also admires the work of social media influencers Logan Dodds and Jesse James Cassrels whom Grace accompanied on a jet ski adventure in April.

“I admire the way they chased dreams and hustled without apology, and they’re always there to help,” she said.

Grace says the best influence empowers people to have the confidence to make a change.

“It’s not just about influencing a community – it’s about influencing people to know that the responsibility is on them. They have the power to make changes in their situation.”

Spare the Surgery: Drugs may Combat Hydrocephalus, Yale Study Finds


Information courtesy Yale School of Medicine News

Clinically available drugs may help combat a potentially lethal form of hydrocephalus now treated mainly by brain surgery, a new Yale–led study has found.

Post–hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH), characterized by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) following hemorrhage of blood vessels in the brain, affects one in a thousand children and is currently treated almost exclusively by the surgical insertion of shunts in the brain.

“Shunts, like any hardware implant, are particularly susceptible to malfunction and infection, and therefore often require patients over the course of their lives to go back to the operating room numerous times,” said Dr. Kristopher T. Kahle, assistant professor of neurosurgery, pediatrics, and cellular & molecular physiology and senior author of the study published July 10 the journal Nature Medicine. “This is really a devastating problem for kids and their families so there is a great need for a pharmacological solution for a condition historically treated only by invasive neurosurgery.”

The most common explanation for this form of hydrocephalus is a failure of the brain to reabsorb cerebrospinal fluid due to clotting of blood or scarring of tissue. However, this model was based on little experimental evidence and new research shows that blood buildup triggers inflammation of the choroid plexus, a group of cells that produce CSF, and can cause an increase in CSF secretion. This can result in an increase in both CSF volume and intracranial pressure.

In work with an animal model of PHH, the Yale team – led by Kahle, also the director of Developmental Anomaly Neurosurgery at Yale–New Haven Hospital, and student Jason Karimy – showed that an approved diuretic and another drug originally designed to treat sepsis can mitigate this immune system response and reduce the secretion of CSF in the brain.

Researchers plan to pursue further pre–clinical studies and then launch a small clinical trial to see if a drug regimen and help reduce need for surgical interventions in patients with PHH due to brain bleeding after aneurysm rupture.


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